Singin in the Rain, Jr. debuted this past weekend here at CCBC Essex in the administration building’s lecture hall.
The play -- presented by Children’s Playhouse of Maryland Inc. -- is based on the iconic 1952 film by a special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures Inc. Liz Boyer Hunnicutt directs from a script originally by Betty Comden and Adolph Green with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.
“I grew up loving this movie and I think the kids have gained a new respect for that era of musicals -- movie musicals especially.” Hunnicutt said. “I think this cut of the script really does get all the great stuff from the movie so you do walk away having a complete understanding of it.”
“Cappies” nominee Kevin Franiak stars in the role of Don Lockwood originally played by Gene Kelly. Franiak is a sophomore at Archbishop High School and has starred in previous productions such as Elf, Sister Act, and The Addams Family. Rachel Miller takes on the part of Kathy Seldon, the role that launched the career of Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds. Miller is a Baltimore Theater award winning actress and the current president of the International Thespian Society at The John Carroll School, where she is in her junior year.
I had a chance to speak with her about what it meant to her to take on Reynolds’ most famous role after her passing last winter. Reynolds died at 84 years old just one day after the death of her daughter, Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher. She suffered a stroke while discussing funeral plans for her daughter at her son’s house in Beverly Hills, CA.
“It’s absolutely wonderful and it’s kind of an honor, especially with what has happened recently,” Miller said. “I love just being able to portray this role and it’s such an iconic show as well. It just brings me such joy and happiness to be able to do this.”
Reynolds became a Hollywood icon after her role as Kathy Seldon in Singin’ in the Rain. The film and play follows a silent film production company, Monumental Pictures, and cast during the challenging transition into films with sound. Together, the on screen romance between Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont (played by Olivia Aubele in the CPM production) are Monumental’s biggest box office draw but Lina’s squeaky voice could mean the end for her career and the death of Monumental as the world is moving on from the silent film to talking pictures.
However, when Don meets Kathy not only do they fall in love, they might just have the perfect plan to save the production company and maintain the popularity of the on-screen romance between Lockwood and Lamont as Hollywood embarks on a new era of filmmaking. Here’s the official description from Children’s Playhouse:
“Singin' in the Rain JR. has all the makings of a Tinsel town tabloid headline – the starlet, the leading man and a love affair that could change lives and make or break careers! In silent movies, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a hot item, but behind the scenes, things aren't always as they appear on the big screen! Meanwhile, Lina's squeaky voice might be the end of her career in "talking pictures" without the help of a talented young actress to do the talking and singing for her.”
Singin’ in the Rain Jr. returns to CCBC Essex next weekend on Saturday, September 23rd at 1 p.m. and again later that evening at 7 p.m. with following performances on Sunday, September 24th at 1 p.m. and again on Saturday, September 30th at 1 p.m.
Tickets are available online at ccbcmd.edu.